Feel the burn this holiday season

Angela Yeager demonstrates a bicep curl with an exercise band under the guidance of Ellen Chaillet at Chaillet’s Private Fitness in Manchester Township (Jeff Lautenberger for Smart).

By BETH LEARS
for Smart

The buildup to the holidays can often leave people feeling disappointed when the festivities are over. An all-too-common problem that contributes to those post-holiday blues is the weight gain that lingers long after the tree has been taken down.

It takes very little effort to pack on the pounds when traveling and indulging in family dinners, party treats and other traps disguised as part of the experience of the season.

While it’s important to limit your calorie intake, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all the fun.

“You can enjoy the holiday festivities, but remember to exercise to burn off the not-so-ordinary treats you may consume,” said Diane Meola, a certified personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in New Freedom.

Packed holiday schedules don’t allow for a lot of extra time to fit in a workout. It can be difficult to keep up a normal fitness routine with traveling and late nights throughout the holiday season.

Jan Swarthout, a certified personal trainer at Chaillet’s Private Fitness in Manchester Township, reminds her clients that they can burn calories in a short amount of time — and even have fun while doing it.

She recommended walking at least 20 minutes a day, which can be broken up into two, 10-minute increments. She also said to pack exercise bands with handles in your suitcase. They can be wrapped around bedposts to stretch or work out any part of the body.

“If you have access to a staircase, get the iPod music going and go up and down,” she said, adding that her personal favorite form of exercise is dancing to her favorite tunes.

Another fun way to add exercise into your holiday travels is to take advantage of the extra time spent with family and friends and burn calories together. Meola suggests walking, running, biking, swimming, hiking, kayaking and sports.

“Even playing with your kids or pets will get you off the couch and increase your heart rate, which in turn will burn fat,” she said.

You can also challenge your holiday guests with a virtual sport.

“The Nintendo Wii is great,” Swarthout said. “You do work up a sweat with some of the Wii games.”

And sweating this season is the key to avoid tipping the scales in 2013. “Make the time to work out, even if only for 15 minutes,” said Meola. “… You have control over your own health and it should be your number one priority.”

‘Tis the season for burning calories

Want to make a little more wiggle room in your diet for a slice of pumpkin pie?

A 135-pound woman would burn off around 900 calories doing the following holiday-related activities.

    Walking around your neighborhood to look at lights (30 minutes): 85 calories

    Cleaning the living room from top to bottom (60 minutes): 178 calories

    Shoveling the driveway after the first snowfall (30 minutes): 186 calories

    Rearranging the furniture for your annual holiday party (30 minutes): 202 calories

    Packing your suitcase before leaving for your in-laws’ house (30 minutes): 65 calories

– Source: healthstatus.com

Want more holiday ideas? Visit Smart’s Holiday Countdown page.

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